Walence Case, Part VIII

by Laurel | April 26th, 2012

15 March 1933

Marital Relations of the Walences Told by Police
Capt. P. F. Cullen Says Defendant Said Husband Went With Other Women
Holyoke Woman Accused of Murder
Testifies She Said at First She Didn’t Mean to Kill, and Later Denied Shooting at All

Sensational disclosures concerning the marital relations of the defendant and her husband prior to his death were made by Mrs. Mary Walence when questioned by the Holyoke police following the fatal shooting which took place at her home in the early morning of July 11, according to testimony given in superior court yesterday by Capt. Peter F. Cullen of the Holyoke detective bureau. Mrs. Walence is on trial on a charge of the murder of her husband, Paul Walence, by shooting him while he lay in bed at their home at 71 Linden Street, Holyoke.

The testimony given by Capt. Cullen, a witness for the commonwealth, was of such a nature that Judge Daniel T. O’Connell halted the proceeding momentarily to announce to the crowded courtroom that testimony that might be embarrassing to the women spectators would be brought out and that an opportunity would be given them to leave if they so desired. Less than a half-dozen of the score or more of women spectators left the room.

Blames Other Women

Under questioning at the Holyoke police station, Capt. Cullen testified, Mrs. Walence related that for three years she had trouble with her husband because he was going with other women. The had fought over this issue repeatedly and at one time he had threatened to throw her out of the house. On another occasion he had attempted more sinister violence against her person.

“You don’t know what I’ve had to put up with for three years with this man,” Mrs. Walence said, according to the Holyoke detective. Capt. Cullen testified that when he remonstrated that it was no excuse for shooting her husband, Mrs. Walence exclaimed “I didn’t mean to kill him,” and repeated the statement.

Later, the defendant denied that she knew anything about the shooting and denied ever having seen the revolver before (referring to a .25 caliber automatic pistol that was found in the yard of the Walence home after the shooting and which the commonwealth claims was the weapon used in the killing). Mrs. Walence also disclaimed having any knowledge of enemies who might have wanted to kill her husband.

Defendant is Calm

Through questioning of Capt. Cullen and other members of the Holyoke police department, including Patrolmen James White, William J. O’Donnell, and Edward J. Brennan, District Attorney Thomas F. Moriarty sought to forge a chain of circumstantial evidence connecting Mrs. Walence with the crime. Previously, in his opening to the jury, the district attorney indicated that the commonwealth would attempt to establish that the motive for the shooting was the jealousy aroused by the victim’s attentions to a South Deerfield woman.

Mrs. Walence, 43 year old mother of five children, sat calmly in the prisoner’s cage while the prosecution endeavored to draw from witnesses the damaging evidence with which the commonwealth hopes to link her with the death of her husband, a 44 year old storekeeper. She was dressed in black and wore a brown fur-trimmed coat and a black felt hat. While following the testimony closely, the expression on her pale face was for the most part impassive, the only exception being when the blood soaked pajama coat which had been removed from her husband’s body following the shooting was introduced in evidence. At this juncture, she leaned forward slightly, her frail shoulders shaking with sobs. This was her only show of emotion during the afternoon’s hearing.

Under direct examination, Capt. Cullen said he was called to the Walence home about 8:15 the morning of July 11. Other officers had preceded him there and Patrolman Baker was questioning Mrs. Walence and her oldest daughter, Stella, in the kitchen at the time of his arrival. He spoke to Stella, who told him tat someone had shot her father firing through the bedroom window. After viewing the body laying on the nearest of the twin beds in the bedroom, Capt. Cullen went outside to look at the windows, but saw no indications of bullet holes through the screens. The rear bedroom window was about seven feet off the ground and he had to stand on a cellar window to examine it.

Five Shells Found

The other officers turned over to him five shells from a .25 caliber pistol which they had found in the bedroom, and Patrolman Brennan handed him the revolver which he had found in the yard about 10 feet from the rear piazza. Capt Cullen assisted the medical examiner, P. G. Moriarty of Chicopee, in removing the coat of Walence’s pajamas.

About 4 that morning, Mrs Walence was taken to police headquarters for further questioning. She told the officers that she had been awakened by two shots shortly after 2 o’clock. She thought the first shot was outside and the second shot appeared to be in the front part of the house. She said her husband had come home about midnight and had retired at once. Assistant Marshal Gilday of Holyoke was present when Mrs. Walence had asserted that she had not meant to kill her husband.

Stella,the oldest daughter, told the officers that she went to the bathroom at about 2 in the morning. Returning to her room, she was seated on the side of her bed when she heard two shots, followed by a pause, and then three more shots. Accompanied by her sister Josephine, she first went to the kitchen and finding nothing unusual there, went to her parents’ bedroom where she saw her mother standing at the foot of her father’s bed.

Capt. Cullen remained unshaken in his testimony in the face of a rigorous cross-examination by Attorney Thomas C. Maher, counsel for the defense. referring to the transcript of evidence at the preliminary police court inquiry, Atty. Maher attempted to point out discrepancies in the testimony concerning the length and time of Capt. Cullen’s first interview with the defendant.

Bullet is Exhibited

A bullet found by Patrolman O’Donnell in a corner of the mattress of the of the bed in which Walence was killed was introduced as evidence by the district attorney. It was brought out during the direct examination that Lieut. Van Amburgh, ballistics expert of the state police, has been consulted by the police in the examination of the bullet and revolver shells.

Dr. George L. Ross, Holyoke physician, testified that he was called to the Walence home following the shooting. Walence was dead when he arrived. Dr. Ross observed bullet wounds over the right eye, in the right shoulder blade, in the center of the chest and on the right side of the chest of the victim.

Previously published articles about this case:

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